SEVERAL Conservative councillors on Ryedale District Council have voted to keep recently defected Coun Edward Legard in his role as vice-chairman of the authority’s policy and resources committee.

Coun Legard quit the group earlier this month due to what he described as “irreconcilable differences”

between himself and the group leader, Coun Keith Knaggs who is also leader of the district council.

The recent annual meeting, Coun Knaggs put forward Coun Caroline Goodrick to replace Coun Legard as vice-chairman of the policy committee.

However, when the vote was taken, Liberals, Independents, Liberal Democrats and some Conservatives, backed Coun Legard, resulting in a tied vote.

The newly-elected district council chairman Coun Hope cast his vote in favour of Coun Legard who later told the Gazette&Herald that his reasons for leaving the Tory group were “personal”.

He said: “All I am prepared to say is that I strongly believe that we should always respect another’s right to take a principled stand on a matter of local importance and that we should not seek to punish an individual for doing so.”

A barrister, Coun Legard, added: “I will always defend a person’s right to express their views in whatever forum they choose, however much I disagree with them.”

Coun Legard was the sole Conservative member to speak out earlier this month against the controversial Wentworth Street car park supermarket plan.

He said: “In recent months, I have become increasingly frustrated by petty politicking obsession by some with internal matters. I take an oldfashioned approach to being a councillor.

That is to say, I am simply and purely a public servant elected to represent the interests of the Wolds parishes.

“I want to concentrate on serving my ward and I would like to see Ryedale District Council get on with the business of delivering greater prosperity and better services to the people of this district.

“I remain a committed Conservative and will continue to support the group wherever possible.”

Coun Knaggs said later: “I bear Edward no ill-will in any way and as a group we will sort this out.”